Last-Mile Deliveries: Planning Is Key

Jun 08, 2021

Many delivery drivers are involved in the logistics puzzle of getting a package from point A to point B. Oftentimes the most challenging part, however, is the last-mile delivery. As a small (or large) business owner, keeping shipping costs down is a daily struggle, and it’s crucial to your bottom line. How does last-mile delivery play into the costs and what can you do about it? The experts at Western Peaks Logistics fill you in.

Increased Delivery Demand

E-commerce was huge before COVID hit, and it exploded once people were confined to their homes. Some growth estimates for online purchases have been put at 50%. With this surge in sales came a need for more delivery drivers and personnel, and this sector of the labor market continues to grow. Thus, while the challenges of on-time, on-budget delivery are constant, the sheer volume of deliveries has added to the challenges of the industry.

In the logistics field, the earlier steps in a planned delivery route are usually less challenging and easier to streamline. If, as a small-business owner in Boston, you routinely ship packages all over the United States, your carrier’s job is to get your packages on planes heading to the closest city to their destinations. It’s when your packages arrive at the local transportation hub that the skillset of your logistics company becomes important.

Tracking Your Deliveries

Much of the pain of final-mile delivery (or any part of the delivery) has been relieved through the availability of tracking.

Most logistics companies provide customers tracking numbers today. So as a small-business owner, if your customer wants to know where their delivery is, you can quickly look online and tell them. The customer can also do this as well, which cuts down on all the time small-business owners previously wasted trying to track down packages.


At the same time, in the era of COVID, certain business practices have become common that disrupt this process. One of the worst is how some delivery services mark packages as “delivered” that have not, in fact, been delivered. Customers look online and see the package has been declared delivered and become upset because they don’t have it. They may look all around their front yard, consult the neighbors, call the shipper, etc. Finally, when they contact the delivery company, they learn that the company routinely marks packages as “delivered” long before they have been delivered, and customers are instructed to wait 24-48 hours before calling about a missing package.

This is the kind of shady business practice that gives logistics companies a bad name. Western Peaks Logistics last-mile carriers never mark packages as delivered that have not been delivered. As a top logistics company, we understand the pressure deliverers are under to deliver on time but saying a package has been delivered when it hasn’t should not be a factor in on-time performance numbers.

It’s the use of bar codes that makes accurate tracking available. Whenever a package leaves a facility and is loaded onto a truck, the bar code on the package is scanned. That’s how we know where it is. When the package is placed on the doorstep of its final destination, it is scanned one last time (and sometimes photographed), as proof of delivery.

Plan Properly and Carefully

Last-mile delivery can be dicey (and more expensive) because while lots of packages are being sent to Salt Lake City, fewer are going to Tooele and fewer still are going to Stockton. Once a package gets that far down the delivery chain, it may be the only package going to that area. Like a bus route, the farther a logistics company travels for a single delivery, the less efficient the process is.

As a small-business owner, you can help to keep costs down with proper planning. Determine a deadline for orders to be placed for guaranteed delivery by a certain date and feature this information prominently on your website. This will keep your customers’ expectations reasonable.

While everyone wishes they could receive their package soon after they place an order, most customers are reasonable. What is important to them is that the package arrives when you say it will. This avoids disappointment. Promising an earlier delivery that is unlikely to occur creates much more ill will than giving customers a realistic delivery date that is further out.

Last-Mile Delivery Challenges

Speed and vehicle size are factors in the last-mile delivery equation. Larger last-mile delivery trucks can fit more packages on them, reducing the need for drivers to return to the distribution center multiple times.

Using delivery drivers who are longtime local residents or experienced drivers can help tremendously because they are more familiar with the territory. Knowing that a certain town has a Maple Street and a Maple Drive is information that can help get a package to its correct destination much more quickly. Other factors that come into play in these types of situations are knowing about the location of low-clearance bridges, which highways or roads are undergoing construction, or which areas get backed up with schoolchildren or livestock crossing the street.

Another important tool in last-mile delivery is the use of sophisticated software. Years ago, delivery routes were planned manually and took much longer. Today, we use software to plan the routes for us. But all software is not the same. Because we are a large, experienced logistics company, Western Peaks Logistics uses more advanced software that gives us more tools and information than smaller companies may have at their disposal.

Dependable Last-Mile Deliveries

Reliability is arguably the most important consideration when you’re looking to partner with a logistics company for last-mile delivery service. Packages must be delivered safely and on time. In today’s delivery marketplace, many new companies — or old companies with many new employees — are popping up. At Western Peaks Logistics, we have decades of experience in logistics, including last-mile delivery service. We understand only too well the importance of hiring the best last-mile delivery drivers and training them properly. We have not only a bottom line to consider, but a reputation to uphold in the Rocky Mountain West. We dominate in our hubs in Salt Lake City, Denver, and Boise, and our drivers are seen on every major highway and narrow mountain pass in Utah, Colorado, and Idaho.

When you’re looking for a trustworthy, experienced last-mile delivery company to partner with, choose Western Peaks Logistics, and never worry again about your packages making it to their destinations on time.

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